By Steve Klamkin WPRO News
Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed says that refocusing on efforts to develop the Rhode Island economy is the top priority, as the General Assembly begins its 2013 session on New Year's Day.
"We'll certainly begin by taking a look at the factors that have caused us to rank poorly in national studies," said the Newport Democrat who is expected to win reelection to lead the state Senate when the group reorganizes after old and new members are sworn in January 1.
"The Senate anticipates working together with RIPEC (Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council) to identify and develop legislation to address those factors."
She spoke in an interview for "Steve Klamkin and the WPRO Saturday Morning News".
Other issues are also expected to arise early in the session, including a renewed drive to allow same sex marriage, a priority of the openly gay House Speaker Gordon Fox, but which Paiva Weed has opposed in the past.
"My stance really hasn't changed," she said. "Two years ago we passed civil unions. This year we anticipate awaiting the house to act on the issue of same sex marriage, and we will be hearing that legislation in committee if the house does, in fact, pass the bill as anticipated by the Speaker, and we'll move forward at that time."
This represents a change from past practice, when legislation permitting gay couples to marry saw no action in the Senate Judiciary committee.
Paiva Weed does not anticipate any legislative action toward legalizing marijuana.
"I do not anticipate the legalization of marijuana. We recently, just last session, enacted the decriminalization, and that will be taking effect, and we'll be moving ahead with the implementation of that."
""I have in the past supported decriminalization of marijuana," said Paiva Weed, an attorney.